Combating Hate

Decoded: How music, books and poetry is being used to fan hate in India

H-Pop..The secretive world of Hindutva Pop Stars will make many introspect - Is the nation going the Nazi way and is that acceptable to Indians?

Kolkata: If music is the food for ‘hate’ then play on…

Well, that’s the mood of the new India that’s being sculpted, slowly but steadily. And that perhaps has been bothering Indians, who are still bothered about the secular fabric of India being shredded to bits.

Music, poetry and books being used as tools to further widen the divide between the Indian Muslims and Hindus indicates that a new popular culture is emerging in the country. These music, poems or excerpts when used doing rallies have led to violence and even riots.

But the bigger question is – Do we have an anti-dote for this venom being spewed openly?

Precisely, that was discussed, during the two-hour long session hosted by Saira Shah Halim at her residence, where she hosted author Kunal Purohit to talk about his book H-pop..The secretive world of Hindutva Pop Stars and how YouTube songs, poems and book are triggering lynching and even riots.

Purohit, during his interaction with the audience, chose to play some videos or songs that are often used to create an ambience of hate or give an adrenaline rush to the mob when it crosses Muslim localities or mosques in particular. According to the author, Ramnavami is the time when this happens the most.

Sharing an incident, he said, “Back then, when I reporting on such hate crimes, mob lynching case of Muslim teenager in Jharkhand’s Gumla district, made it to the headlines. But what didn’t make it was the fact that the boys who lynched Mohmmad Shalik, were part of the same crowd that swooned to heady hate music that was being played during the Ramnavami procession that had gone out of control after nearing a mosque, where several Muslims were waiting to welcome them, as part of a tradition that might have been on since long.”

hindutva pop culture indian muslims hate books
Saira Shah Halim with author Kunal Purohit

According to Purohit, the deadly combination of churning out provocative hate songs, poems and texts that fan hate has become a run of the mill in the Hindi speaking belt of India. And guess what the ‘hate-fever’ is spreading on to the other states as well, contemplates the author.

The discussion also highlighted how the hatred has seeped into schools in Kolkata, where the hate-talks from dinner tables have managed to sneak into tiffin-time talks. How kids are ‘othering’ each other and how teachers are resorting to biases like – “Have you learnt it from your masjid”, that are often peddled blatantly on social media today.

The author, while speaking, stressed on the need of the civil society to come forward, be responsible and do their own bit to take on the issue. He said, “No political party will be able to take on this issue, even if they want to. For the moment they will address this issue, they will be bracketed as anti-Hindu, so we as individuals should do our bit to tackle the rising Hindutva pop culture.”

Lieutenant General Zameer Uddin Shah, stressed upon a two-prong method to counter hate. “The non-Muslim liberals should take on the narratives that are being built. I believe what they say will be taken more seriously. Muslims, on the other hand need to excel in whatever they are doing. Just like Mohammad Shami. See, a great performance made PM Narendra Modi hug him. So, getting laurels for the country will help break the narratives being built about Muslims in India.”

Speaking on the issue of removing prejudices, academics and parents, present during the discussion, expressed helplessness over how history textbooks were being changed. “With the Mughal era being done away with, we are creating a generation with limited knowledge of India’s vibrant past,” said a parent.

As Purohit stressed upon the need to build a community of people to create counter narratives, videos and memes to counter the H-pop culture, filmmaker Ashoke Viswanathan, stressed upon the need of awakening of the Indian middle class.

He said, “We need to understand that the rise of such content is similar to the neo-Nazi uprising in India. Keeping the RSS agenda, hate speech, H-pop culture aside, I believe that we need to activate the Indian middle class, who are in slumber. They need to be shamed about the fact that by not taking a stand India is going the Nazi way and is that acceptable to us?”

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